|This satellite pic shows the course the gully runs and the growth of gorse around it. The main swale bisects the water course and now directs water across the property on contour.|
Digging the swale at the end of summer, the ground was too hard for the bucket on the little tractor. First the pegged line was ripped a number of times and the loose earth was scooped and piled on the downhill side of the swale.
|Scoop and dump ... scoop and dump|
The top side of the swale was planted with a variety of acacias - blackwood, black wattle, lightwood and wirilda in the mix. The last thing to do was to make a bridge to the lower paddock.
After years of drought, rainfall this autumn and winter has been constant. The swale has been full since April, resulting in waterlogging in the paddock below. When it came time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees, we decided to mound them up to prevent them drowning. As it turns out, the bottom end of the swale is somewhat higher, which means the ground below is less damp, and a good place to plant cherries, peaches and apricots, which are more susceptible to waterlogging. When things dry out again, the plan is to deepen and widen the swale. Having thought in terms of water scarcity for so many years, I didn't account for how much water would be coming through that culvert. 80mm fell in 24 hours in August, blowing out the walls of small ponds we had constructed to slow down the remaining water that travels through the gully.
This represents a major challenge. We're grappling with how to deal with the force of the water flowing through that small channel in big rain events. There's also a concern about contaminants coming onto the property that have washed off the roads, particularly for the two small dams scheduled for future works. For the time being, the big rains are cleansing, washing up an assortment of rubbish and old bottles that have been thrown in that gully for countless years.